On 3rd November Jamie and I boarded a plane in freezing cold Manchester and eight and a half hours later arrived in sunny Goa at seven in the morning.
From Dabolim airport it was a hairy, cow dodging taxi ride to Patnem, but an hour later we were at the beach.
As we dragged our wheely suitcases along the sand to our accommodation at Sea Front Beach Huts, I eagerly stared around trying to soak up the atmosphere of the place. And I spied relaxed, hippy looking types, supping on lassis and masalas teas. They looked happy – this was a postive sign – I sensed we were going to have a very good time.
In the weeks leading up to the holiday, I had made lots of plans as to how we’d spend our fortnight – day trips, local markets and perhaps an outing to a spice farm.
Then when we got there, reality hit. It was so damn hot and nice. I literally couldn’t arsed to move much. Forget day trips, I wanted to do nothing.
It was a very long 14 days, filled with competitive scrabble playing, book reading and watching the world go by on the beach. The Goans are delightful people – charming, happy and friendly and this was a big part of why we enjoyed Patnem so much.
We started out literally having curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner – which I thoroughly enjoyed. But after a few days I was starting crave fresh fruit and veg, and eating paratha (Indian layered bread) three times a day was leaving me feeling bloated. So we moved on to amazing smoothie bowls with fresh fruit at ‘Zest’ health cafe for breakfast, and tasty salads for lunch at ‘Home’, a peaceful and pretty beach front restaurant. We stayed committed to curries in the evenings though when we’d jump in a rickshaw and drive a mile down the road to lively Palolem for dinner and drinks.
Despite never leaving the two neighbouring beaches of Patnem and Palolem for a fortnight, it still felt like such an adventure. Just the interactions we were having with local waiters, shop owners and rickshaw drivers felt exciting and interesting. And the atmosphere of Patnem itself, which is known for its many yoga schools, felt exotic – not only because of the melting pot of nationalities hanging out there: Israelis, Germans, Russians, Brits and even Indians on holiday, but the yoga vibe of the resort was very different to any holiday I’ve ever been on. Watching people do classes on the beach was fascinating – admittedly sometimes the chanting got on my nerves, but largely I loved watching the focus, dedication and grace of these people learning their skill.
When it was time to go back to the UK, Jamie and I were both really sad. It had been a magical experience. It wasn’t a hard core immersion into Indian culture – Jamie described it as ‘India light’ – a gentle introduction to the country without the chaos and hassle you might receive in other Indian tourist spots. Two weeks of beautiful beach with my excellent boyfriend in gorgeous hot sunshine, surrounded by lovely Goans – I couldn’t have asked for more.